Denzel Washington was one of the first people to comfort Will Smith after he slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. The veteran actor has now shared some of his thoughts on that dramatic moment with Deadline, explaining that he and Tyler Perry prayed for Smith after the slap.
“There’s a saying when the devil ignores you, then you know you’re doing something wrong. The devil goes, ‘Oh, no, leave him alone. He’s my favourite,'” Washington said. “Conversely, when the devil comes at you, maybe it’s because he’s trying to do something right. And for whatever reason, the devil got a hold of him that night.”
“Fortunately, there were people there, not just me but others. Tyler Perry came immediately right over there with me. Some prayers,” Washington continued. “I don’t wanna say what we talked about – but there but for the grace of God go any of us. Who are we to condemn? I don’t know all the ins and outs of this situation, but I know the only solution was prayer. The way I saw it. The way I see it.”
While Washington may be reluctant to condemn Smith, The Academy has been less reserved in its condemnation despite Smith apologising to Rock. The awards body launched an official investigation into the slap prompting Smith to resign from The Academy.
“My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” Smith wrote in his resignation letter. “The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work.”
“I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film,” he continued. “So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.”
The Academy has said it has received and accepted Smith’s “immediate resignation.” This means that Smith will no longer be eligible to vote on the Oscar winners, although he will still be eligible to win future awards.
If you’re less interested in the fallout of Smith’s slap and more interested in film, check out our guide to the best movies of all time.